To the future Dr. Griscom,
I hope all is well in your life. Despite my busy schedule right now as a first-year medical student, I am sure that you are as busy as ever seeing patients every day. I hope that healthcare has continued to change into a system that provides for both you and the patient. It cracks me up to think that you might have your own family. I hope you have found a beautiful, thoughtful, and loving friend to spend the rest of your life with – you deserve it. As someone who will always remain a kid at heart, I hope you have not lost your youthful spirit with your children. I know they will have a very caring father, and I hope you are providing your family with something more than an income. Do not let your practice consume you to the point that you miss out on the loves of your life.
I know that with all the medical information to be known your memory will have to selectively choose what to remember and what to forget. I am already blown away with how my brain has stored enough information get me this far in school. Most of all, I pray that you have not forgotten the formative moments of the beginning of your journey.
I hope you have not forgotten the day you were accepted into medical school. After spending many late nights and weekends to study and even choosing to spend your spring break in your junior year of college to stay at school to study for the MCAT (what a pain that was), you were called by the admission’s office. Do you remember your hand shaking the phone during the conversation and subsequently falling to the ground on my knees with tears falling from your eyes? Do you remember calling dad, mom, and your sister? They all cried too. After all those hours of hard work, I think it paid off.
Do you remember the first day of medical school? You could not help feeling the deep-rooted passion come alive within your heart. You came to class eager to learn new material, and you envisioned helping the lives of many patients one day. I am sure you have not forgotten that you became an EMT and had some very powerful moments with people in the community. You saw your fellow brothers and sisters in a lot of pain and desperate need. Regardless of their physical condition, it has been apparent that they are all longing for help with something. I hope you remember all the change needed to combat the myriad suffering in this world.
I had a conversation with a fellow classmate recently. She commented how ironic it is how easily we come to dread learning so much material in medical school. She said something very powerful, “Why do we complain so much when becoming a doctor is a privilege?” I realized that I too have slowly changed in school. I have become so caught up in knowing all the little nuances and details of every lecture – not to say that isn’t important – yet, at times I forget about where I am.
I have the incredible opportunity to study how our bodies work. When I complain, I forget that this information is very real. All the processes I am learning are happening inside of you, your patients, and me right now. I grow weary trying to remember the smallest of details in order to get the good grade. Dreading the long night of studying, I drive past the hospital and forget that healing and suffering are happening just a short walk away from my desk.
I know you will remember what happened to me a few weeks ago. You injured your right knee again playing basketball with some of your classmates. You were sprinting down the court and stopped to steal the ball. In one moment you twisted your knee and fell down in pain. Memories of a previously torn knee flooded your thoughts. The emotional response masked any sense of the sharp pain piercing your knee or the inability to stand and walk off the court. You mustered up the strength not to shed any tears in front of the other guys, but you remembered the frustrating struggle toward recovery.
After spending several hours in the emergency department, a MRI, and an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon, you were grateful to hear that it was merely a torn meniscus. The knee was still in pain, but you knew that the surgery would not be as tough. The only thing that proved difficult and frustrating was managing crutches once again.
I remember why I hated them so much. It has been a pain to get up in the morning and take a shower, make my breakfast and lunch, and put my clothes on my body. I have caught myself almost tripping down the stairs from your old apartment twice. It has taken some ibuprofen to get through each day, and it has even been a struggle to sit for extended periods of time at a desk to study. You must remember the awkwardness of working with standardized patients while on crutches. I crutch into each room, and it takes me several minutes to wash my hands and sit in front of the patient. I manage to crack a smile when I comment, “Am I in the right room? I think I should be the patient today!” I have found that there is beauty in a bit of humor.
Despite all this frustration, physical pain, anxiousness, and stress, it has been a blessing in disguise. The injury has made me slow down with everything that I do – literally. The slow walks have made me appreciate my surroundings a bit more. I now have a bit more time to look at the hospital and think about my future. It has returned me once again to the emotional and physical struggle that many patients endure every day. I have experienced a fraction of the chronic suffering that exists in the world. I have been blessed with access to medical care with physical and social support. I know that my knee is nothing in comparison to the brokenness in health that exists throughout our community. The injury has brought me back down to earth.
I hope my knee is still functioning well for you. I hope you can run around with your family and friends. I pray that your arthritis has not become too much of a burden with what is left of the tissue (I know you are probably jealous of my youth about now).
I hope you have not lost your understanding of what it is like to be a patient in pain, and that compassion is the center of your practice. Every time you touch the hand of a patient, I pray that they feel the warmth of your love and care for their problems. I know that my future is bright yet filled with many long hours that will be fatiguing. However, I hope that you have remained true to who you are and remember that your love will never cease. I know that your spirit can endure through anything.
Be forever grateful and never quit smiling.
I look forward to meeting you one day.
A younger Dr. Griscom
I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee before heading to Furman University for my undergraduate studies. Football brought me to South Carolina, and I participated on the varsity team for a little over a year before deciding to focus more of my time on my studies and community involvement. I graduated Furman in May 2014 with a degree in Religion, and I believe that my background allows for a unique perspective into the lives of patients. I have been wanting to practice medicine since my youth, and I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by the USC School of Medicine Greenville to pursue that dream.
Copyright 2014 USC School of Medicine Greenville